Twelve Days of Anime Day One: Penguindrum Part One: Sometimes I Watch Things Out of Spite

HAPPY TWELVE DAYS OF ANIME! I think I’m a day late o_O

Ok, I apologize if this post is less than well thought out/incoherent. I have a paper and a final exam due tomorrow that I’m procrastinating, so part 2 will be much cleaner, but I promised Josh I’d get something up so here goes…

Josh is going to give you a review of this show in his own terms, those being very dry and academic, but as you know I will give you my lovely opinions in more uh…pedestrian language haha. This will probably shock those of you who know anything about me, but I actually liked this show! *Cue snowstorm in Hell* Oh wait I’m in Boston. XD Couldn’t resist. Anyway, but yes I liked this show, which is more surprising to me than anyone else. See, I like to play this game with Josh where when he nags me to do something I actively go out of my way to sit on my hands and refuse to do it. The “it” in this case being to finish up the Sailor Moon reboot so I could write a post about that. But yea, the more he nagged, the less inclined I was to work on that so since he was watching Penguindrum for his class I decided to be a total toolbag (see douchecanoe) and start watching it without telling him. Because I’m nice like that. Anyway, but yes I shall forthwith give you my musings on this very strange show and let you know what I thought!


On to the commentary!

Summary: All twins Kanba and Shoma know is that when their terminally ill sister Himari collapses at the aquarium, her death is somehow temporarily reversed by the penguin hat that she had asked for. It’s a provisional resurrection, however, and it comes at a price: to keep Himari alive they need to find the mysterious Penguin Drum. In order to do that, they must first find the links to a complex interlocking chain of riddles that has wrapped around their entire existence, and unravel the knots that tie them to mystifying diary and a baffling string of strangers and semi-acquaintances who all have their own secrets, agendas and “survival strategies.” And in order for Himari to live, someone else’s chosen destiny will have to change. It’s a story of love, fate, life, death… and Penguins!

Penguins being the most important part. Clearly.


See the problem with this show is that it’s difficult to discuss without getting academic and talking about symbolism. I don’t really want to rain on Josh’s parade so consider this a tl;dr for his upcoming post. I could go on and gush about the character development, which no lie was one of the best I’ve seen in a while. Or the fact that I want one of those penguins as a pet, but Josh won’t let me. The best way to discuss this show is with a little more of an intelligent approach. There was so much freaking symbolism. The show had it bleeding out of the ears and I did find it to be overwhelming at times. Plus it would be beating around the bush to say that it’s not weird. It’s so weird that Wikipedia can barely come up with a good synopsis for it haha.

The best way I can describe this show is a combination of a fairytale and some weird Gabriel Garcia Marquez-esque magical realism. Any other AP Spanish Lit-ers out there? We follow Himari–a clear Snow White/Sleeping Beauty figure. Both the fairytale and the show hit hard with the resurrection theme. There is a lot of rebirth, Himari dies and is reborn several times throughout the show. This keeps in line with the central theme of trying to rewrite destiny. If one rewrites destiny then is everyone in the new path of fate reborn into different roles? Different decisions? I’d like to think so. Maybe it’s a bit too profound, but I think it’s an important idea.

First, a little bit of mythological/folklore background: I’m not going to go into the whole Judeo-Christian lore because Josh wanted to tackle that so I’ll get to a bit more of the obscurities. In Celtic/British folklore the apple symbolizes fertility, new life, and rebirth. Also, in Norse mythology the goddess Idunn kept a tree full of golden apples that were supposed to keep the gods young and beautiful. If anyone wants some more apple symbolism information they can go here–I don’t feel like cataloguing every single symbol.

blondes tights anime pink eyes hats apples mawaru penguindrum anime girls takakura himari_www.wallmay.net_47

Himari is first resurrected from the child broiler when Shoma offers her an apple and ties his destiny to hers–thus saving her from whatever fate might otherwise await her. A bit earlier on, Himari also refuses an apple from Shoma citing that she doesn’t take food from strangers. At that point she has refused her resurrection, she is not ready to accept that she needs to be reborn. Only once she’s in the weird freakyass child broiler does she think, “well I’d better get the hell out of here”.



This is a mirror of the scene where Momoka saves Tabuki from the child broiler. The difference being that Shoma is not immediately injured trying to save Himari, unlike Momoka. However, Momoka doesn’t offer Tabuki an apple, but later an apple will offer herself to him hehehe. Ok that was a terrible joke. This is what happens when I try to be serious for too long.

Tabuki's apple...XD

Tabuki’s apple…XD

I think each central character goes through their own and I will try to outline each. Himari’s brothers, Shoma and Kanba, always seem to come in charging as Prince Charmings. But they don’t get stuck in the typical older brother cliche. They have more than enough depth. Ok, I’m trying to think about how to describe this, but there’s a surreal scene with Shoma and Kanba as small children both in cages and both of them are pretty convinced they’re dead until out of nowhere an apple appears in Kanba’s cage. The boys share the apple and are, in effect, brought back from the dead. As to why they are keeping small children in cages and practically starving them to death I have zero idea. But hey they also have a ‘child broiler’ so who the hell knows what’s actually going on in this universe.



Momoka is the agent of resurrection for a significant portion of the characters until her untimely death? disappearance? Whatever you want to call it. She saves Yuri from her crazy artist father. Seriously though someone needs to call CPS on this show. So much weird child abuse, borderline or otherwise. Yuri and Tabuki are both resurrected by Momoka, but once she is gone there needs to be a new agent of salvation.

Enter the apple. Not Ringo, Ringo is in the words of my 15 year old sister, ‘cray cray’. I’m talking about the metaphorical apple that seems to be constantly floating around in the world. The apple symbolism is everywhere…TO BE CONTINUED/FLESHED OUT TOMORROW

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